Tucked into a sun-soaked hillside along the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Italian Dolomites, the exclusive family-only Sonnwies Hotel is the quintessential getaway for families wanting to experience nature and adventure in comfort.
With numerous activities for all ages, including training and experienced ski slopes, water tubing, pony rides, and scenic hikes through the so-called Pale Mountains, Sonnwies is the perfect place for families with young children to reconnect and recharge.
Every aspect of the Hotel takes care to cater to the youngest of us: multiple entertainment and games rooms for children of all ages, nooks and crannies stuffed with toys and colouring-in supplies, bunk bed rooms, and even bathroom amenities such as toddler-height basins.
With all the family-friendly design choices, the Hotel hasn’t compromised on luxury. Alpinesque unfinished wood and cosy leather armchairs contribute to the modern wilderness joy of the location.
We spoke with Sonnwies owner and manager Anna Hinteregger about the region and her relationship with family-oriented hospitality.
What experiences and influences guided you to hospitality management?
Growing up on a South Tyrolean farm, I have always been very connected with nature and deeply rooted in rural values. The Sonnwies, our family home, is marked by a history rich in tradition. It all began in 1998, when the farm was converted into a small guesthouse with 15 beds. In a very special environment, a lot of untouched nature and very close to the Dolomites, our first guests enjoyed their vacations. Year after year, the simple Bed&Breakfast has developed into a luxury hotel in combination with an organic farm. In 2002 we decided to specialise in families. This niche positioning has contributed greatly to the success of the house. I grew up here, and since my childhood, I have been involved in the hotel business and hospitality. For some years, I gained experience abroad in prestigious establishments in Switzerland, but I always knew that I would come back to South Tyrol to develop the Sonnwies into a very special place, a high-quality retreat for discerning families with a primary focus on sustainability. I am a hostess with a lot of passion, always with the aim to combine the outstanding power of our surroundings with a high standard of a tradition-conscious but cosmopolitan luxury hotel to offer families all over the world unique experiences in nature. Today Sonnwies is one of the leading Families Only Hotels in Europe – my personal proof that great visions come true with determination and dedication.
Please describe Sonnwies Dolomites’ aesthetic concept, architecture, and interior design.
Our exclusive bio-construction, which was realised by local companies and craftsmen, is well thought-out and, in view of its natural resources and diversity, meets the highest standard criteria of sustainability. The interior is exclusively made of solid wood furniture such as larch, spruce, Swiss stone pine and oak, as well as natural elemental textiles such as cotton, loden, and linen. Furthermore, natural stone from the Dolomites as well as handcrafted natural steel, are used. Our façade is finished with local larch and blends seamlessly into the idyllic surroundings around Lüsen.
What do you think are the key differences that set Sonnwies apart from its rivals in the sector?
First of all, the Sonnwies has always been family run with very natural growth and many years of experience. Through our focus on a very specific target group, we know the needs of families in detail. In addition, the outstanding natural location makes this place unique: sun-drenched, pure spring water, fresh mountain air, and the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Dolomites very close to the resort. The ideal retreat and place of power for discerning families looking for an extraordinary nature experience. Special emphasis is placed on raising children’s awareness of nature. At Sonnwies, children playfully experience the daily routine of our organic farm. During their stay, children can feed our animals, muck out the barn, look for eggs in the chicken coop, hop in the hay, ride a pony, drive a tractor with the farmer, and much more. Also, in the gardens and in the forest, there are all sorts of special activities: planting beds with seeds, a nature treasure hunt, or painting on the wooden easel. A very special location is also our manufactory: families learn how to prepare typical South Tyrolean dishes, such as dumplings or Kaiserschmarrn, followed by a tasting. Furthermore, we make every effort to employ staff from the village or neighbouring communities to offer our guests an authentic experience and contribute to the region.
How does Sonnwies remain consistent in meeting its high hospitality and service standards?
Our overall credo is: no longer larger, further, or higher but slower, more conscious, and more sustainable. In all areas, we are constantly working out special signature services, and we attach great importance to quality and regionality. These reduced offers reflect the hotel concept and ensure special guest experiences. Whether SPA treatments, our bar and culinary concept, or the kids’ programme… Our approach is less but even more special – something that will be remembered, with the aim, that our guests are delighted to return for another stay. In addition, we place great emphasis on working with local and regional suppliers and artisans, and our own organic farm delivers many fresh ingredients for our kitchen team. We always keep in mind that we act in a natural paradise, which we all have the duty to preserve and protect. Therefore, it is particularly important to us to work in an environmentally conscious and responsible manner in all areas of action.
Have you seen a difference in the guest needs over the years, in particular, differences in what they expect from both Sonnwies and the local region?
Sustainability and a conscious approach to nature are more important than ever nowadays, and therefore these topics enjoy the highest priority in our family hotel. Due to the natural location of the Sonnwies, processing raw materials from the smallest radius is a matter of the heart for us as hosts. In order to dignify sustainability, we have developed the Sonnwies Sustainable Circle. A concept that reflects our sustainability philosophy in all facets of the house.
What hospitality industry changes would you like to see in future?
Travellers are increasingly seeking true and authentic experiences that have a lasting impact. We are very grateful to be surrounded by such a unique nature, which for our guests and us, is a soothing experience and provides slow down and relaxation. Sometimes a sunset, the feeling of freedom is enough to feel good. And this is what we value most – the power of simplicity.
And, of course, sustainability is one of the most important pillars of our concept. Our in-house biomass heating plant supplies the entire facility with 100% climate-neutral heat from renewable raw materials (wood pellets). Furthermore, we use 100% CO2-free green electricity, which is produced from the small hydroelectric power plant in Lüsner. We also use the high-quality Lüsner Alm water, which springs from the heights of the Lüsner Alm. The water is used in all areas of the hotel, such as the swimming pools, SPA area, and for cooking. In order to reduce not only water consumption but also energy consumption, we use water-saving fittings in all areas.
Please describe your favourite dish on the and how it appeals to guests.
Our Sonnwies Family Nature Culinary combines tradition and modernity, regionality and seasonality in a food concept, that appeals to the whole family. I appreciate the South Tyrolean cuisine, with its Mediterranean influences, a lot. If you ask me for my favourite dish, I would choose a typical dessert called “Kaiserscharrn” – a scrambled sweet pancake with fresh eggs from our organic farm and homemade jam. Also, our guests, especially the little ones, love the dish.
Please describe your favourite cocktail on the bar menu.
My absolute favorite cocktail is the hand-shake whiskey sour with egg white. I enjoy this drink best in our lounge, with an open fire, a unique sunset and the stunning mountain view of the Dolomites. On warm days, there is nothing better than to end the evening on our sun terrace with atmospheric background music and clear mountain air.
Any there upcoming developments that visitors can look forward to?
Oh yes, we are constantly working to make our nature experience even more special for our guests. There are some new projects that are currently being realized. Among them is a totally new “creative hub” for families. The attic of our traditional barn house will serve as a creative area where families can work with local wood, natural wool, clay, paper, dried flowers, materials from our forest, paints, crayons and much more. The children learn how to use tools and become little artists. The soft hay stored inside is the perfect surface for jumping and playing. The Attica can also be booked privately for a special quality-family time.
How would you describe Sonnwies Dolomites in a few sentences?
Good question. I’ll try to keep this short: Sonnwies is our home and a unique place to slow down for families from all over the world, surrounded by unspoiled nature, the Dolomites and lasting experiences.